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Subject[RFC PATCH v6 3/3] docs: scheduler: Add introduction to scheduler context-switch
From: John Mathew <>

Add documentation for introduction to
-x86 context-switch
-MIPS context switch

Suggested-by: Lukas Bulwahn <>
Co-developed-by: Mostafa Chamanara <>
Signed-off-by: Mostafa Chamanara <>
Co-developed-by: Oleg Tsymbal <>
Signed-off-by: Oleg Tsymbal <>
Signed-off-by: John Mathew <>
Documentation/scheduler/arch-specific.rst | 3 +
Documentation/scheduler/context-switching.rst | 125 ++++++++++++++++++
Documentation/scheduler/index.rst | 1 +
.../scheduler/mips-context-switch.rst | 89 +++++++++++++
.../scheduler/x86-context-switch.rst | 65 +++++++++
5 files changed, 283 insertions(+)
create mode 100644 Documentation/scheduler/context-switching.rst
create mode 100644 Documentation/scheduler/mips-context-switch.rst
create mode 100644 Documentation/scheduler/x86-context-switch.rst

diff --git a/Documentation/scheduler/arch-specific.rst b/Documentation/scheduler/arch-specific.rst
index c9c34863d994..65dc393b605f 100644
--- a/Documentation/scheduler/arch-specific.rst
+++ b/Documentation/scheduler/arch-specific.rst
@@ -9,3 +9,6 @@ Architecture Specific Scheduler Implementation Differences

.. toctree::
:maxdepth: 2
+ x86-context-switch
+ mips-context-switch
diff --git a/Documentation/scheduler/context-switching.rst b/Documentation/scheduler/context-switching.rst
new file mode 100644
index 000000000000..8404b997c0b5
--- /dev/null
+++ b/Documentation/scheduler/context-switching.rst
@@ -0,0 +1,125 @@
+.. SPDX-License-Identifier: GPL-2.0+
+Process context switching
+Context Switching
+Context switching, the switching from a running task to another,
+is done by the context_switch() function defined in kernel/sched/core.c.
+It is called by __schedule() when a new process has been selected to run.
+The execution flow is as follows:
+* prepare_task_switch() performs necessary kernel preparations for the
+ context switch and then calls prepare_arch_switch() for architecture
+ specific context switch preparation. This call must be paired with a
+ subsequent finish_task_switch() after the context switch. The various
+ steps are:
+ - Prepare kcov for context switch. Context switch does switch_mm() to the
+ next task's mm, then switch_to() that new task. This means vmalloc'd
+ regions which had previously been faulted in can transiently disappear in
+ the context of the prev task. Functions instrumented by KCOV may try to
+ access a vmalloc'd kcov_area during this window, and result in a recursive
+ fault. This is avoided by setting a new flag: KCOV_IN_CTXSW in kcov_mode
+ prior to switching the mm, and cleared once the new task is live.
+ - Update sched_info statistics for both the prev and next tasks.
+ - Handle perf subsystem context switch from previous task to next.
+ The various steps are:
+ * Remove perf events for the task being context-switched out.
+ * Stop each perf event and update the event value in event->count.
+ * Call the context switch callback for PMU with flag indicating
+ schedule out.
+ * Create a PERF_RECORD_MISC_SWITCH_OUT perf event.
+ * Context switch the perf event contexts between the current and next tasks.
+ * Schedule out current cgroup events if cgroup perf events exist on the
+ CPU.
+ - Set TIF_NOTIFY_RESUME flag on the current thread for the Restartable
+ sequence mechanism. Restartable sequences allow user-space to perform
+ update operations on per-cpu data without requiring heavy-weight atomic
+ operations.
+ - Fire preempt notifiers. A task can request the scheduler to notify it
+ whenever it is preempted or scheduled back in. This allows the task to
+ swap any special-purpose registers like the FPU or Intel's VT registers.
+ - Claim the next task as running to prevent load balancing run on it.
+* arch_start_context_switch() batches the reload of page tables and other
+ process state with the actual context switch code for paravirtualized
+ guests.
+* Transfer the real and anonymous address spaces between the switching tasks.
+ Four possible transfer types are:
+ * kernel task switching to another kernel task
+ * user task switching to a kernel task
+ * kernel task switching to user task
+ * user task switching to user task
+ For a kernel task switching to kernel task enter_lazy_tlb() is called
+ which is an architecture specific implementation to handle a context
+ without an mm. Architectures implement lazy tricks to minimize TLB
+ flushes here. The active address space from the previous task is
+ borrowed (transferred) to the next task.
+ For a user task switching to kernel task it will have a real address
+ space and so its anonymous users counter is incremented. This makes
+ sure that the address space will not get freed even after the previous
+ task exits.
+ For a user task switching to user task the architecture specific
+ switch_mm_irqs_off() or switch_mm() functions are called. The main
+ functionality of these calls is to switch the address space between
+ the user space processes. This includes switching the page table pointers
+ either via retrieved valid ASID for the process or page mapping in the TLB.
+ For a kernel task switching to a user task, switch_mm_irqs_off()
+ replaces the address space of prev kernel task(last active_mm) with the
+ next (next mm) from the user task. The context_switch() function saves the
+ active_mm to the runqueue’s prev_mm field to drop the this mm later in
+ the finish_task_switch().
+* prepare_lock_switch() releases lockdep of the runqueue lock to handle
+ the special case of the scheduler context switch where the runqueue lock
+ will be released by the next task.
+* Architecture specific implementation of switch_to() switches the
+ register state and the stack. This involves saving and restoring stack
+ information and the processor registers and any other
+ architecture-specific state that must be managed and restored on a
+ per-process basis.
+* finish_task_switch() performs the final steps of the context switch:
+ - Emit a warning if the preempt count is corrupted and set the preempt count
+ - Reset the pointer to the memory descriptor used by prev which was set in
+ context_switch().
+ - Store the state of the previous task to handle the possibility of a DEAD
+ task.
+ - Do virtual CPU time accounting for the previous task.
+ - Handle perf subsystem context switch from previous task to current:
+ - Add perf events for the current task.
+ - Schedule in current cgroup events if cgroup perf events exist on the
+ CPU.
+ - Context switch the perf event contexts between the prev and current
+ tasks.
+ - Clear the PERF_RECORD_MISC_SWITCH_OUT perf event.
+ - Call the context switch callback for PMU with flag indicating
+ schedule in.
+ - Free the task for load balancing run on it.
+ - Unlock the rq lock.
+ - Clear the KCOV_IN_CTXSW in kcov_mode which was set in prepare_task_switch
+ now that the new task is live.
+ - Fire preempt notifiers to notify about task scheduled back in.
+ - If the prev task state indicated that it was dead, the corresponding
+ scheduler class task_dead hook is called. Function-return probe
+ instances associated with the task are removed and put back on the
+ free list. Stack for the task is freed and drop the RCU references.
+ - Evaluate the need for No idle tick due to the context switch and do the
+ idle tick if needed.
diff --git a/Documentation/scheduler/index.rst b/Documentation/scheduler/index.rst
index f311abe5b711..691fdfe32954 100644
--- a/Documentation/scheduler/index.rst
+++ b/Documentation/scheduler/index.rst
@@ -20,6 +20,7 @@ specific implementation differences.
+ context-switching
diff --git a/Documentation/scheduler/mips-context-switch.rst b/Documentation/scheduler/mips-context-switch.rst
new file mode 100644
index 000000000000..d833ab6d8a76
--- /dev/null
+++ b/Documentation/scheduler/mips-context-switch.rst
@@ -0,0 +1,89 @@
+.. SPDX-License-Identifier: GPL-2.0+
+MIPS Architecture And Scheduler implementation
+Multi-threading in MIPS CPUs
+The MIPS architecture defines four coprocessors.
+- CP0: supports virtual memory system and exception handling.
+- CP1: reserved for the floating point coprocessor, the FPU.
+- CP2: available for specific implementations.
+- CP3: reserved for floating point operations in the release 1
+ implementation of MIPS64.
+MIPS32 and MIPS64 architectures provide support for optional components
+known as Modules or Application Specific Extensions. The MT module
+enables the architecture to support multi-threaded implementations.
+This includes support for virtual processors and lightweight thread
+contexts. Implementation of MT features depends on the individual MIPS
+cores. The virtual processing element (VPE) maintains a complete copy
+of the processor state as seen by the software system which includes
+interrupts, register set, and MMU. This enables a single processor to
+appear to an SMP operating system like two separate cores if it has
+2 VPE's. For example two separate OSes can run on each VPE such as Linux
+and and an RTOS.
+A lighter version of VPE enables threading at the user/application
+software level. It is called Thread Context (TC). TC is the hardware
+state necessary to support a thread of execution. This includes a set
+of general purpose registers (GPRs), a program counter (PC), and some
+multiplier and coprocessor state. TCs have common execution unit.
+MIPS ISA provides instructions to utilize TC.
+The Quality of service block of the MT module allows the allocation of
+processor cycles to threads, and sets relative thread priorities. This
+enables 2 thread prioritization mechanisms. The user can prioritize one
+thread over the other as well as allocate a specific ratio of the cycles
+to specific threads. These mechanisms allocate bandwidth to a set
+of threads effectively. QoS block improves system level determinism
+and predictability. Qos block can be replaced by more application
+specific blocks.
+MIPS Context Switch
+Context switch behavior specific to MIPS begins in the way
+:c:macro:`switch_to()` macro is implemented. The main steps in the MIPS
+implementation of the macro are:
+* Handle the FPU affinity management feature. This feature is enabled
+ by the :c:macro:`CONFIG_MIPS_MT_FPAFF` at build time. The macro checks
+ if the FPU was used in the most recent time slice. In case FPU was not
+ used, the restriction of having to run on a CPU with FPU is removed.
+* Disable the FPU and clear the bit indicating the FPU was used in this
+ quantum for the task for the previous task.
+* If FPU is enabled in the next task, check FCSR for any unmasked
+ exceptions pending, clear them and send a signal.
+* If MIPS DSP modules is enabled, save the DSP context of the previous
+ task and restore the dsp context of the next task.
+* If coprocessor 2 is present set the access allowed field of the
+ coprocessor 2.
+* If coprocessor 2 access allowed field was set in previous task, clear it.
+* Clear the the access allowed field of the coprocessor 2.
+* Clear the llbit on MIPS release 6 such that instruction eretnc can be
+ used unconditionally when returning to userland in entry.S.
+ LLbit is used to specify operation for instructions that provide atomic
+ read-modify-write. LLbit is set when a linked load occurs and is tested
+ by the conditional store. It is cleared, during other CPU operation,
+ when a store to the location would no longer be atomic. In particular,
+ it is cleared by exception return instructions. eretnc instruction
+ enables to return from interrupt, exception, or error trap without
+ clearing the LLbit.
+* Clear the global variable ll_bit used by MIPS exception handler.
+* Write the thread pointer to the MIPS userlocal register if the CPU
+ supports this feature. This register is not interpreted by hardware and
+ can be used to share data between privileged and unprivileged software.
+* If hardware watchpoint feature is enabled during build, the watchpoint
+ registers are restored from the next task.
+* Finally the MIPS processor specific implementation of the resume()
+ function is called. It restores the registers of the next task including
+ the stack pointer. The implementation is in assembly in the following
+ architecutre specific files ::
+ arch/mips/kernel/r4k_switch.S
+ arch/mips/kernel/r2300_switch.S
+ arch/mips/kernel/octeon_switch.S
diff --git a/Documentation/scheduler/x86-context-switch.rst b/Documentation/scheduler/x86-context-switch.rst
new file mode 100644
index 000000000000..68453e99cb2b
--- /dev/null
+++ b/Documentation/scheduler/x86-context-switch.rst
@@ -0,0 +1,65 @@
+.. SPDX-License-Identifier: GPL-2.0+
+X86 Context Switch
+The x86 architecture context switching logic is as follows.
+After the switching of MM in the scheduler context_switch() calls the x86
+implementation of :c:macro:`switch_to()`. For x86 arch it is located at ::
+ arch/x86/include/asm/switch_to.h
+Since kernel 4.9, switch_to() has been split into two parts: a
+`prepare_switch_to()` macro and the inline assembly implementation of
+__switch_to_asm() in the assembly files ::
+ arch/x86/entry/entry_64.S
+ arch/x86/entry/entry_32.S
+prepare_switch_to() handles the case when stack uses virtual memory. This
+is configured at build time and is enabled in most modern distributions.
+This function accesses the stack pointer to prevent a double fault.
+Switching to a stack that has top-level paging entry that is not
+present in the current MM will result in a page fault which will be promoted
+to double fault and the result is a panic. So it is necessary to probe the
+stack now so that the vmalloc_fault can fix the page tables.
+The main steps of the inline assembly function __switch_to_asm() are:
+* store the callee saved registers to the old stack which will be switched
+ away from.
+* swap the stack pointers between the old and the new task.
+* move the stack canary value to the current CPU's interrupt stack
+* if return trampoline is enabled, overwrite all entries in the RSB on
+ exiting a guest, to prevent malicious branch target predictions from
+ affecting the host kernel.
+* restore all registers from the new stack previously pushed in reverse
+ order.
+* jump to a C implementation of __switch_to(). The sources are located in::
+ arch/x86/kernel/process_64.c
+ arch/x86/kernel/process_32.c
+The main steps of the C function __switch_to() which is effectively
+the new task running are as follows:
+* retrieve the thread :c:type:`struct thread_struct <thread_struct>`
+ and fpu :c:type:`struct fpu <fpu>` structs from the next and previous
+ tasks.
+* get the current CPU TSS :c:type:`struct tss_struct <tss_struct>`.
+* save the current FPU state while on the old task.
+* store the FS and GS segment registers before changing the thread local
+ storage.
+* reload the GDT for the new tasks TLS.
+ Following is effectively arch_end_context_switch().
+* save the ES and DS segments of the previous task and load the same from
+ the nest task.
+* load the FS and GS segment registers.
+* update the current task of the CPU.
+* update the top of stack pointer for the CPU for entry trampoline.
+* initialize FPU state for next task.
+* set sp0 to point to the entry trampoline stack.
+* call _switch_to_xtra() to handle debug registers, I/O
+ bitmaps and speculation mitigation.
+* write the task's CLOSid/RMID to IA32_PQR_MSR.
 \ /
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